IPL governing council meet: BCCI plays safe and buys time, keeps options open
That has rubbed off on its committees and sub-committees.
On Sunday, the IPL's governing council, which is supposed to take a call on everything pertaining to the trend-setting T20 competition, decided to appoint a working group to suggest a way out of the present mess.
Then, why have a governing council at all?
The crisis-forced working group to be constituted on Monday, will, among other things, look at the possibility of terminating the franchisee agreements of the Chennai Super Kings and the Rajasthan Royals with the BCCI.
According to well-placed sources of The Telegraph, who attended the IPL's governing council meeting in Mumbai, the working group would be tasked with suggesting the best way forward keeping three pointers in mind:
(a) To ensure that the BCCI's image takes no further beating;
(b) To ensure that the BCCI suffers no monetary loss;
(c) To ensure that the players' well-being is not affected.
The BCCI's media release made no mention of what was discussed during the meeting, the first after the Justice Rajendra Mal Lodha committee report, but one understands that Ajay Shirke (who was on Skype from London) asked his fellow members to consider the option of termination.
At that point, most of the others on the governing council felt that nothing should be done in haste. Certainly not after the BCCI has been saddled with a payout of Rs 550 crore to one-time IPL franchise Kochi Tuskers.
The Tuskers' agreement was terminated rather quickly, in 2011, and the BCCI recently finished second-best on the arbitration front.
What is almost certain is that tenders will be floated for two new franchises, ensuring that the IPL remains an eight-team competition. That's the minimum requirement.
If the Super Kings and the Royals don't have their agreements terminated, then they would return to the IPL in 2018, after serving the two-year suspension, which is the punishment meted out by Justice (retd) Lodha and his colleagues - Justices (retd) Ashok Bhan and RV Raveendran.
The possibility of the BCCI managing the Super Kings and the Royals for the next two years hasn't been ruled out completely, but that appears most unlikely as there could be more questions and bigger issues if that actually becomes the preferred way forward.
"Fact is that all options are open... The composition of the working group will probably have a big bearing on its report which would be submitted within six weeks," explained one of the members of the governing council.
The meeting was attended by most members, though special invitee Jyotiraditya Scindia was not able to make it.
Like Shirke, former India captain and the Team India director, Ravi Shastri, gave his views via Skype.
Another former India captain, Sourav Ganguly, flew in from London around four hours before the meeting and returned home (to Calcutta) late in the evening.
There's speculation that Sourav, who is also a member of the BCCI's cricket advisory committee, will be included in the working group.
It wouldn't come as a surprise if Shirke and Scindia, both of whom are not known to be particularly fond of Narayanswami Srinivasan, are in the working group, which is expected to be headed by Rajeev Shukla, the IPL's governing council chairman.
Shirke is a former treasurer of the BCCI and resigned when the IPL was struck by the twin scandals in May 2013.
Shukla, a former Union minister, has been empowered to constitute the working group. He'll do so largely in consultation with Anurag Thakur, the BCCI secretary.
Incidentally, not everybody maybe enthusiastic about featuring in the working group, which is set to include at least one lawyer of eminence.
Once the working group's report is ready, it would be discussed by the IPL's governing council. Thereafter, the BCCI's working committee will come into the picture.
This process would take time.
Some could , of course, call the entire exercise a means of unnecessarily delaying the decision-making.
The BCCI's office-bearers are on the governing council, but president Jagmohan Dalmiya and joint secretary Amitabh Choudhary, were absent for different reasons.
Despite former BCCI president Shashank Manohar's tough stand on Sundar Raman, the IPL's controversial COO, he was present during the meeting and absolutely nobody said a word about his continuing in that position.
Raman is still being probed by the Justice Lodha committee.
That Raman's contract should be terminated immediately was conveyed to Dalmiya by Manohar, the other day, but his advice has not been heeded.
Manohar is unlikely to waste his time in the future.
Footnote: There's talk that the BCCI's HQ will be shifted to the Mumbai Cricket Association's Bandra-Kurla Complex, from the existing Cricket Centre at the Wankhede.
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